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UNICEF Supports Bosnia and Herzegovina in Developing the Strategy Against Drug Abuse

Sarajevo, 26. June 2007.  – In 1987, the UN General Assembly proclaimed June 26th to be the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. For UNICEF, this is the day to remind the public and all relevant institutions and partners of the devastating effects of drug abuse on children and young people.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, UNICEF is providing support to the Ministry of Security to develop a state-level Strategy on Drug Mis-use. The Working Group for the formulation of this Strategy has decided to focus on three thematic areas: (1) prevention and education; (2) treatment and social inclusion/reintegration and, (3) reduction of the demand and supply of drugs.
In support of this strategy and with financial support from the Swedish International Development Agency, UNICEF is currently working with through NGOs and in partnership with local authorities and health institutions to conduct a Bio-behavioral Study on injecting drug users (IDUs) in Sarajevo, Banja Luka and Zenica.  Information gathered will be used for the development of the Strategy and for enhanced targeting of programmes to reduce the risks related to injecting drugs. “The preliminary results show some alarming trends: average age of teenagers taking drugs for the first time is 16, while the average age of starting to inject drugs is 21. The prevalence of Hepatitis C, which is being transmitted same way as HIV, is estimated fairly high, but these results are still to be verified. The study findings will be crucial for the development of appropriate programme interventions, as well as further monitoring and evaluation of response efficiency.” – said dr Ranko Petrovic, UNICEF’s HIV/AIDS specialist

Little is known about the behaviours of injecting drug users in the country.  The risk of HIV transmission through the sharing of non-sterile injecting equipment is very high, as has been proven globally. There is an opportunity in Bosnia and Herzegovina to reduce the spread of HIV by learning more about the risk-related behaviours of certain individuals and designing appropriate, effective prevention activities targeted to their behaviour patterns.  UNICEF’s work in this area will contribute directly to the government’s efforts to prevent HIV transmission and reduce the amount of drug use in the country.

For additional information, please contact: Nela Kacmarcik, UNICEF BIH, Sarajevo, Kolodvorska 6
Phone: +387 33 723 300, Mob: +387 61 192 084



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